taking opium

“What do you expect me to do? Surely, Mr. O'Connell, you don’t expect me to visit an opium den—”

I finished the sentence. “—on the Sabbath. I appreciate your thought-fulness, Emerson, for as I am well aware, such considerations do not weigh heavily with you. However, the Sabbath ends at midnight, and that hour, we know, is a good time to find such dens functioning, although, I have been assured, they are in operation at all hours, since to their wretched clients day and night are alike.”

“Who said anything about opium dens?” Kevin stuttered.

“Peabody,” Emerson bellowed, “I am not taking you to an opium den on the Sabbath or at any other time.”

“Your syntax gives you away, Emerson,” I replied, with a playful shake of my finger. “You do not deny that you mean to visit an opium den. You cannot suppose I would let you go alone to such a place? ‘Whither thou goest I will go, and whither thou lodgest I will lodge; thy people shall be—’ ”

“Oh, do be quiet, Peabody! And don’t quote Scripture to me!”

— 

The Deeds of the Disturber

Elizabeth Peters

Rupert Grint: 2017

Adolf the Artist is a satirical drama starring Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones) and Rupert Grint (Harry Potter), telling the little-known tale of a young Adolf, before politics and before war, when all he could dream about was becoming a famous painter. Historically accurate, this imagining of the young pre-tyrant is comedic in its approach and sees him ata crossroads in his life, when “his struggle” was purely about not being a good enough artist. In 1907, an 18-year-old Hitler applied to the prestigious Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, certain that his genious would be recognized. It wasn’t. He resolved to re-apply the following year and moved to Vienna, hopeful that living amongst artists would rub off on him. Not one to let himself go, Hitler found the opium-taking, schnapps-swilling, sexual experimentation of his fellow artists somewhat irritating and as he’d not yet developed into a demagogic ranter, no-one listened. They didn’t have to. Yet. This story follows Adolf in the run-up to retaking the entrance exam, burdened by temper tantrums and an oddball dress sense, and desperately trying to improve as an artist and gain recognition.

Sick Note is the story of Daniel Glass (Rupert Grint), a compulsive liar, who’s stuck in a failing relationship and a dead end job, where he is under the thumb of his irrepressible boss Kenny West (Don Johnson). And just when things couldn’t get any worse, he’s diagnosed with esophageal cancer. However, everyone starts to treat him better because of his diagnosis and suddenly Daniel finds he has a new lust for life. But then he finds out he was misdiagnosed by the most incompetent oncologist on Earth, Dr Ian Glennis (Nick Frost) and that’s when Daniel has a big decision to make: come clean and go back to his old rubbish life, or keep this new information a secret and pretend to be ill. He decides to go for the latter but very quickly the lie spirals out of control and both Daniel and Dr Glennis have to spend all of their waking lives trying to prevent the truth from getting out.

Rupert Grint is set to star in and executive produce Snatch which is based on the cult 2000 Sony movie of the same name that starred Jason Statham and Brad Pitt. Also cast in the straight-to-series drama are Dougray Scott (Fear the Walking Dead) as a regular and Ed Westwick (Wicked City) as a recurring guest star. Nick Renton (The Musketeers) will direct. Snatch will carry the spirit of the setting in the film, while creating a new world with new characters. Inspired by a real life heist in London, Snatch, centers on a group of twenty-something, up-and-coming hustlers who stumble upon a truck load of stolen gold bullion and are suddenly thrust into the high-stakes world of organized crime. The boys must quickly learn to navigate the treacherous waters of London’s underworld as rogue cops, gypsy fighters, international mobsters and local villains descend.Grint will play the dynamic, frustratingly chaotic and utterly posh con man, Charlie Cavendish. Scott plays Vic Hill, who continues the con game from inside prison; Westwick plays night club owner Sonny Castillo.

Lord Byron: man I love men….I also love women…man I love sex with everyone

Percy Shelley: No, George, you can’t say that. Remember, bisexuality hasn’t been invented yet and we’re not capable of defining ourselves. Also, in the near future, fuckheads on the internet will deny everything you ever did or said about this so it’s pointless! Just take some more opium.

Lord Byron: oh shit u rite

The cure for suffering—which is the collision of consciousness with unconsciousness—is not to be submerged in unconsciousness, but to be raised to consciousness and to suffer more. The evil of suffering is cured by more suffering, by higher suffering. Do not take opium, but put salt and vinegar in the soul’s wound, for when you sleep and no longer feel the suffering, you are not. And to be, that is imperative. Do not then close your eyes to the agonizing Sphinx, but look her in the face and let her seize you in her mouth and crunch you with her hundred thousand poisonous teeth and swallow you. And when she has swallowed you, you will know the sweetness of the taste of suffering.
—  Miguel de Unamuno, from Tragic Sense of Life

Left. Right. Right. Left? Left. Up. Up. Up. Right.Dead end. Back. Left. Precipice. Back. Down. Left. Right. Left. Left. Left.Down. Down. Get out. Walk. Walk. Run. Straight. One. Two. Three. Fourth door. Dead end. Back. Keep going. Down. Down. Down. Left. Dead end. Back. Dead end. Dead end. Dead end. No way out. NO. WAY. OUT.

Panic.


It is easy enough to find your way into the place, if you venture far enough down Knockturn Alley – far enough to be robbed or murdered, if you are not careful. There is an entrance, there, into the sewers and from there, into the network of Billingsgate’s underground canals. At the end, right under the docks, a door to a tiny house – but appearances can be deceiving. So many who enter underestimate it. The entering is easy enough; a knock should let you in.

It is the leaving that is difficult.

Once upon a time, it used to be a temple to Æsculapius – a place for healing for those whose dreams were troubled and for those who dreamt the future to congregate and be ministered to by those who were specially trained for the task. Any mentions of the divine are only ironic now. Most call it Lethe House. The dead, or the nearly dead all find their way – lost and broken and no room for them in the world above. Stray werewolves. Gancanagh and Veela; too old to dance, too young to die. Wix who have tired of this world for some reason or the other, or else have sought some new pleasure to tickle their fancy. Vampires too broken by their injuries to venture out into the world above. They all find their way down to Lethe House and from there, to oblivion.

Once upon a time the healers would talk to those who came to them and tell them what their dreams meant and once they had paid their tribute to the gods, they would leave its halls. They find them a bed, now, and feed them opium mixed with Elixir of Euphoria, abandon them to the company of the tricks and games the mind plays when left alone in the dark and supplied with opium.

So many come down here convinced that they will stay only a short while before they leave. They are wrong.

Lethe House is an enigma. Stare at it from the outside and it appears no bigger than a tiny hut. Enter and it is evident that it is much bigger than it seems, but by how much? Ah, that is a mystery. Whether it is a trick of perception, or some evil magic at work is uncertain. What is certain is that those who try to leave wander its halls in never-ending circles. The longer they stay, the deeper they wander and the larger Lethe House grows.  The deeper they go, the darker their dreams until they are no longer dreams but nightmares and the fine line between the real and the dream world is finally severed. They may spend years, wandering down corridor after corridor, staircases this way and that, criss-crossed in unsolvable Escheresque puzzles and for all those years, they find themselves no closer to finding the door by which they came in.

There is a price, of course, unwritten though it may be, for that never-ending supply of opium for free. For every dose, every dream, hallucination and memory thrown up by the drug to feed the oneiromancers and healers who learn the art of dream-interpretation. For oblivion, your freedom. There is no return. Once you take the opium, once you set foot in Lethe House, your life is forfeit and you are no more than yet another mind – another crop ready for harvest.

Only a perseverant few will find their way back out into the Billingsgate canals. Most give up and grow old and die in Lethe House.

Their bones and anything else left unravaged by years of drug use may find their way on to Knockturn Alley’s blackmarkets. The rest?

There is a reason the canals of Billingsgate smell the way they do.


No.

No panic.

Stop.

Think.

Left. Left. Right. No dose. Down. Down. Up. No dose. Down. Left. Left. Down. Down. Down.

These are dreams. Not real.

No dose.

Left. Down. Down.

Tired. So tired.

Down.

Keep moving. Left foot. Right foot. Left. Right. Move. Breathe. Live. Move.

Down.

So cold.

No dose.

Down.

Pain. So much pain.

Move.

Down.

Drink. Eat. Move. Left. Right. Move. Drink. Eat. Move.

Down.

Just one – no dose – one – NO.

Move.

Down.

Vomit. Drink. Eat. Move.

A - NO.

Down.

I can’t.

Breathe.

Remember.


He remembers - jumbled old memories, he can’t quite tell if they’re real or not, not right now, but they feel more definite, more certain than the drug-dreams, as though they may have really happened to him once. It’s so hard to tell, everything looks the same in Lethe House and time, time stops in Lethe House - so easy to believe that everything begins and ends there, that there was no life before and no life after Lethe House; just the house and its strange twisting hallways. Still, he remembers, something, realer than a past-life, but still so strange and alien. A woman with brown hair with her head tilted back and laughing and telling him he’s an angel. Her angel. A man with dark blond hair with his arm around this woman’s waist and smiling at him, crinkle-eyed and sad. Marches - so many marches - for muggles, for muggleborns, for Ireland, for Wales, for the miners. Support the miners - and then the door, the black door - and then he is angry.


Get up. Move. One foot in front of the other.

Down.

Sewers.

Keep on. Straight down. Straight now.

No dose.

A door.

The door.

Free.


The stench of Billingsgate canals, the fish and rotting bodies and piss and all the sordid smells of despair and life at its most broken, are a welcome escape from the sickly sweet smell of opium fumes. After – days? Weeks? Years? – inside the halls of Lethe House, even the stagnant air of the canals seems like fresh air; cold and alive and bracing.

Remus Lupin breaths the foul air in deeply and turns to solve the Billingsgate canal maze and find his way back into the world. After Lethe House, getting out of the canals seems almost like child’s play.

Knockturn Alley. King’s Cross. Home.

April 23, 1916 - Last Attempt to Relieve Kut Fails

Pictured - Indian soldiers at Kut scramble for cover while a Lewis-gun team shoots at Turkish aircraft.

The British army at Kut had been cut off for months in the besieged Mesopotamian city, surrounded by numerous Turkish forces after an overambitious attempt at taking Ctesiphon failed.  General Townshend’s isolated corps had had 12,000 troops at the beginning of the siege.  By March, supplies were running out, and by April the Anglo-Indian force was in dire straights.  Soldiers were reduced to eating the horses, and taking opium pills to try and reduce the painful pangs of hunger.

The Indian Army had created Tigris Corps to try and relieve Kut by marching up the river and defeating the besieging Turkish army, but it had failed multiple times, and a final effort at April 22-23 failed too.  General Gorringe’s troops attacked the Turkish soldiers dug in at Hanna, on the banks of the Tigris, in multiple frontal attacks, but the Turks, now lead by German officers, beat them back each time, with horrendous casulties.  Gorringe retreated on April 23.  The soldiers trapped in Kut had briefly hoped that rescue had finally arrived.  Now they gave in to despair as they heard the guns of the rescue-force recede as it retreated.  For Kut, the end was near.